Payson's soft, mildly nostalgic pictures (some black and white, some in subdued color) have a pleasant lulling appearance that not only suits the book to bedtime reading but kindles susceptibility to the 26 short, old fashioned rhymes they illustrate. Properly on the quiet side, most of the verses--predominantly about going to bed though a few feature small animals at night, etc.--are easily forgettable. Perhaps the liveliest is Walter de la Mare's ""Where""; Barbara Taylor Bradford's ""The Little Girl Lost"" is easily the most sentimental, and there are a few sticky dream songs: ""The Sandman,"" again by Bradford, Eugene Field's ""Sugar-Plum Tree"" and Loryn Parker's gooey ""Lullaby Lady."" With David McCord, Robert Louis Stevenson, Aileen Fisher and Myra Cohn Livingston also represented, it's a predictable, generally slack collection, but the overall mood is right for the occasion, and pieces like Louis V. Ledoux' ""Slumber Song"" ("". . . Drowsily come the sheep. . ."") are likely to accomplish a parent's purpose.